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Can an EB guy learn DB without a teacher?

Discussion in 'Jazz Technique [DB]' started by CJK84, May 26, 2005.

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  1. CJK84


    Jan 22, 2004
    Maria Stein, OH
    I'm 39 and as much as I like my 4-string EB, a DB seems very cool for certain situations (e.g., playing in church).

    I feel that I'm a motivated self-learner who is resourceful. I believe that I have developed an efficient physical approach to playing the EB - without the benefit of an instructor.

    With hard work and study, could I learn solid DB technique through books, videos, online forums and perhaps the bit of EB technique that carries over to DB?

    Or is this nearly impossible without an instructor? I live a little over an hour from the nearest music store that even sells DB's, so finding a good instructor probably wouldn't be easy.

    Also, I play EB with a light touch - have worked hard to learn to play relaxed and remain tension free (still working on relaxation actually).

    So will I have to pluck considerably harder to generate an audible tone from a DB - it seems like some DB'ers are plucking hard.

    In terms of actually buying a DB, I'm only a window shopper at this point, but I often see DB's and wish to have one.
  2. EFischer1

    EFischer1 Guest

    Mar 17, 2002
    New York, New York
    In short, no.

    Find a teacher, even if only for a few lessons. You will thank us a few years down the road when you (hopefully) have no bad habits to unlearn.

    This is a common misconception. The doghouse is a totally different instrument from slab.
  3. Jason Sypher

    Jason Sypher Supporting Member

    Jan 3, 2001
    Brooklyn, NY
    You could play poorly but you would be very limited.
  4. godoze


    Oct 21, 2002
    Especially with the bow.
  5. CJK84,

    I started learning the DB at the age of 35, after 20 years of electric bass. As others have noted, it's a different animal!

    I was lucky that my teacher was *only* a 40-minute drive away. He had one student who drove more than three hours each way (his lessons were monthly). So I'd advise you to find a teacher somewhere and - at the very least - get in a dozen or so lessons to start you off. You need to learn how to hold the darn thing and begin a foundation of good technique. Also, I'd strongly advise learning arco, even if you have no intention of playing in a symphony. Arco will assist your intonation in a big way.

    And I also have a "light touch" when playing EB. When I think about it, I probably have a light touch on the DB as well! Anyway, hope some of this helps. Good luck - learning the DB is a worthwhile, rewarding experience. I'm sure we'll all agree with that!
  6. hdiddy

    hdiddy Official Forum Flunkee Supporting Member

    Mar 16, 2004
    Richmond, CA
  7. Odds are you will teach yourself very bad habits, and quite possibly hurt yourself. Best case scenario is that you spend a lot of time frustrated, and eventually become proficient. Double bass is not something to play around with, imo. Either learn it right, or maybe pick up a banjo or something... :-D
  8. +1.

    Even if you have to drive a few hours, a couple of lessons will get you started, and prevent you from hurting yourself. I'm sure that others will recommend teachers in your area, but I distantly remember a discussion about good instructors in Cincinnati... That isn't too far, is it? Even one lesson will be of so much help.
  9. CJK84


    Jan 22, 2004
    Maria Stein, OH
    Thanks for the remarks guys.

    I guess I'm in no position to take on the DB now. I'm only a weekend warrior musician (about 18 gigs/yr) and still ironing out some physical issues on EB.

    I wouldn't be able to devote the time to such a task.

    Thanks for the input. I'll continue to envy all you DB'ers. Maybe when my kids are grown I can take the plunge and do it the right way.
  10. You scared him off :bawl:

    I hope you're all proud of yourselves...

    *whispers in CJK84's ear* Just get yourself a DB like I did after 30 years on BG. Even if you never get a teacher you'll have hours of fun...
  11. Joe Nerve

    Joe Nerve Supporting Member

    Oct 7, 2000
    New York City
    Endorsing artist: Musicman basses
    I was going to PM the guy to warn him that you guys over here can be pretty brutal.

    Can't wait to start raving about how great my new Pace EUB is (due to ship 6/10). All of you DB guys should get one. :D
  12. Freddels

    Freddels Musical Anarchist

    Apr 7, 2005
    Sutton, MA
    I wouldn't give up so easy. Why don't you try renting one for a while or at least go to a store and try a few out. Sure it's a different beast but it's still a bass, it's just bigger!

    The strings are tuned the same, the notes are in the same order on the strings but just a bit farther apart.

    Who knows how far you'll progress on your own without a teacher. I believe Gary Burton used 4 mallets on the vibraphone b/c he didn't have a teacher and he didn't know that he was supposed to use only two.

    Try it, you'll like it!

    my .02
  13. Joe Nerve

    Joe Nerve Supporting Member

    Oct 7, 2000
    New York City
    Endorsing artist: Musicman basses
    In all seriousness, I must say that I often do think a lot of you guys over here come off with a bit of an attitude. Like a forum full of Jeff Berlins. I don't mind of course, i kind of get a kick out of it. I still miss that guy.
  14. kwd


    Jun 26, 2003
    silicon valley
    I did it on my own for about 4 years before getting a teacher, started at 38. While I recommend that, I wouldn't let it be a deal breaker. I wasted a lot of time during those 4 years, but I was having fun. I had some gigs and played in a jazz ensemble class once a week. When I started in earnest with a teacher I had to make a trade i.e. lessons instead of playing with other people. With my schedule, I couldn't manage both lessons and rehearsals. Two years later, I'm a much better player but I'm out of circulation. ...just something to keep in mind.

    The Book Illusion:

    Books don't work. With the close supervision of a teacher I been able to put together a decent technique. When I look at the scores of books I bought I laugh at the thought that I could learn what I know now by looking at book. Books don't tell you what you're doing wrong and help you correct it.

    So I guess it's kind of a mixed bag. Anway, good luck to you.
  15. Freddels

    Freddels Musical Anarchist

    Apr 7, 2005
    Sutton, MA
    I know that there are teachers that will teach via mail/email. I know that Bruce Gertz does this and maybe able to do video online with him. I know that if you have access to a video camera and can tape yourself playing he can evaluate your technique and give you pointers.

    Send him an email. He'll respond and let you know if it's doable or not.


    Good luck,

  16. pacojastorius

    pacojastorius Guest

    May 21, 2005
    yea i had a a different problem, i started with lessons off a classical guy who used the Simandl method but i thought that was a load of boring crap, so i changed to a jazz teacher with a novel 'get good quick' approach, it worked for him, he is a top bassist but it didnt work out for me.
    So 2 years later i'm working on the Simandl with a bow anyway!
    Maybe if i had started out on my own and got my feet wet before relying on a teacher to tell me best approach i would have had time to really think about what were my goals on the instrument.
    So now i have a few different ways i approach the instrument, as im sure most players here do as well!
    go out and watch some upright players, ask them what methods they use, and how they learned, with or without a teacher.
    my advice would be to find a good classical teacher who uses the Simandl method and after you got your scales and chords going then think about playing some bebop!
  17. SteveC

    SteveC Moderator Staff Member

    Nov 12, 2004
    Eastern North Dakota
    As a player AND teacher of both, these threads always irritate me. Electric players think that since they can play electric they can play upright. WRONG! It is a different instrument.

    If you are going to do it, you need lessons. Period.

    That goes for EUB's as well.
  18. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    Augusta GA
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    if that's all it took, he couldn't have been that serious about it in the first place. I mean, keerist, all that stopped Lindfield was that he couldn't find a place that took credit cards.

    Even for just "having fun" there's a level of commitment that you don't need for EB. Just to get a sound out of the beast. Brutal? No. It's no skin off my nose if you never decide to play the bass, it in no way enhances the quality of my life if you do. It's not attitude Joe, it's experience. And certainly nobody has to care about that. But if you ASK for the benefits of that experience, why complain about it just because it's not what you want to hear?

    My experience is that having gone from electric bass to upright bass without a teacher, just figuring things out on my own by playing as much as I could made me hit a brick wall that I had NO IDEA how to get around or over, put me just a few weeks away from serious physical problems and had entrenched some seriously misguided approaches to playing. Believe me, I wasn't having any FUN. Now that is all predicated on the fact that I wanted something more. If all I wanted to do was thump a little bit and do some gigs and be able to look at it in the corner of the living room and say "Oh yeah I play upright.", then NO, I didn't need to take lessons. Cause as soon as I got tendonitis, all I would need to do is stand the bass in the corner until it didn't hurt so bad. Or just go back to playing electric.
    But the sound I heard in my head was double bass. And I didn't want to "get by", I wanted to get as serious as I could and play as deep as I could and make as much sense as icould. I wanted to be on the stand and be able to make myself HEARD, not just volume, but intent. I wanted to be part of the conversation on the bandstand, have something to say. Not just get by. Not be hanging on by my fingernails, hoping I could hang.

    Nobody says that's what you have to want. But if it IS what you want, then you should listen to what I (and most of these other folk around here) have to say.

    And be a little less concerned about feeling all warm and fuzzy about it...
  19. Phil Smith

    Phil Smith Mr Sumisu 2 U

    May 30, 2000
    Peoples Republic of Brooklyn
    Creator of: iGigBook for Android/iOS
    Anyone that is serious about anything will not be put off by comments made by someone on a message board. If they are put off, they're just not really all that serious.

    To the OP:

    Nothing is impossible. You would definitely save some time with a teacher well suited to you and your goals in that you'll have someone to guide you and hopefully to inspire you, though you should already be inspired and already want it to the point that it's a priority i.e. it's something that you're going to do, not that you might do.

    As for your light touch on the EBG, that's a technique that you use for bass guitar because your sound is amplified, the double bass is going to require different things that you need to do physically and will need some additional strength but you still want to be relaxed and tension free.

    Lastly, to play any instrument and music well requires a great deal of time and energy, even the electric bass and I'm talking about playing not just plucking a string and turning up the amplified volume. Once you get beyond the physical demands of the double bass all of the other stuff is still there to deal with, ideas, hearing and being open to what you've heard and how you interpret what you've heard, the ability to play in the genre, improvising.
  20. CJK84


    Jan 22, 2004
    Maria Stein, OH

    Are you talking to me (the original poster)?

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